The Innovation Support Program: Focus On Commercialization

On May 22-24, 28 participants of the Skoltech Innovation Support Program (ISP) assembled in the historical center of Moscow to discuss the Program mid-term results and discuss their working plans for the future.

The Innovation Support Program (ISP) is designed to assist Skoltech researchers and partner institutions in bridging the gap between the laboratory and market, and serves as a catalyst for technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

The event was hosted by the Skoltech Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) and included a two-day workshop and an open forum discussion. The workshop was mostly attended by the ISP participants and was designed to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking, define challenges for each of the ISP projects, and identify steps the projects may take to reduce their technology and market risks.

The workshop featured lectures, presentations, discussions, case studies, and Q&A sessions. It also aimed to equip the participants with the necessary knowledge to reinforce their strategies in future.

Experts from a broad spectrum of academic and business backgrounds joined the workshop. They included representatives from the Laboratory Radioisotope Complex at the Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Science, the Skolkovo Center for Intellectual Property Rights, Intel and Siemens LLC in Russia. They shared insight on breakthrough research and successful development of production for Russian and international markets, licensing and patent rights and Intel’s experience in Silicon Valley and in Russia.

Expanding the Program

During the week, several innovation project management MBA graduates and undergraduates of from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) also joined the working groups and Catalysts. These scholars joined the ISP program to enhance their project management skills, and gain new knowledge on how to transform an idea into a real product. In return, MBA volunteers will provide insight into marketing issues to assist their teams and strengthen the Program.

This partnership is a good example of the interuniversity partnerships Skoltech promotes. Through the collaboration, the universities will support technological innovation within an interconnected entrepreneurial network.

Despite the fact that the ISP is in its “pilot” mode, it has already assisted the participants in developing their understanding of best practices and commercialization. At the workshop, the participants enthusiastically started
with the acknowledgement that each day working on ISP projects becomes more intense and exciting.

Open Forum
On May 24, the CEI hosted a Forum Discussion on ‘Commercializing University Innovations: from idea to business’. The forum was tailored for Russian universities and experts on E&I from local and international companies specifically interested in developing innovation ecosystem in Russia. Among participants, there were representatives from Cisco, Intel, Rusnano, and other companies.


In the opening address, Skoltech President Edward Crawley gave the audience a view of the university and spoke about its mission and concept. “We have this marvelous opportunity to build a university which acts as a drive of innovation and an engine of economic growth,” he said.

Throughout the seminar, the participants stressed the need to foster a ‘culture of innovation’ in Russia.

isp2Leon Sandler, Executive Director at MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, elaborated on how the Center produces that culture. During his presentation Mr. Sandler mentioned the importance of human relations for developing an E&I ecosystem: “An ecosystem is all about people and relationships. It’s very important to build connections and engage people.”

The discussion focused on how to understand and interpret translational research in Russia, the forms of translational research and its difference from R&D.

Some of the key points included the importance of finding new opportunities to support academic and applied research through collaboration between government, venture funds, industrial companies and entrepreneurial universities like Skoltech.
Igor Seleznev, Director of Research Programs at the CEI, explained how Skoltech is evolving the translational research model developed at MIT to fit the Russian context.

Following Igor’s presentation, Dmitry Pebalk, ISP Manager, showcased the results delivered from the start of the Program, which is anticipated to evolve into a program with a larger number of participants from Skoltech and partner institutions.

isp4Wrapping up the discussion Ilia Dubinsky, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, pointed out that the interest to the event and active discussion reflect progress in development of a vibrant ecosystem in Russia.

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